Pros: Stylish, fun, and sexy
Cons: Too melodramatic for some
Rating: 5 out of 5
I first encountered J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts’s ‘in death’ series and its tough-as-nails cop heroine Eve Dallas when I read Memory in Death, and I followed that up by borrowing a copy of the first book in the series, Naked in Death, from a friend so I could go back to the beginning. Now I’m jumping forward to review her latest: Strangers in Death.
The year is 2060, and Eve Dallas is a New York City homicide detective who takes her job very seriously. Today she has a real headache of a case brewing: rich man and philanthropist Thomas Anders is dead, and he died in a very compromising position while his wife was out of town. The problem is, some of the death details don’t add up to the sordid sex crime it appears to be, and the more Eve pokes at it the more confusing it gets. Add to that a nearly cold case involving an abused woman’s husband killed by a prostitute, and plenty of futuristic hijinks, and Eve’s in for her usual wild ride.
I can’t suppress the feeling that Eve’s partner Peabody is a tad on the childish side for a homicide detective, but her personality and Eve’s spark so well off of each other that I also don’t really care. Like most parts of this series and setting it’s deliberately over-the-top, melodramatic, or larger-than-life, and done in a way that’s just pure fun to experience.
Perhaps my two favorite things about the ‘in death’ series books are the characters and the dialogue. The characters are colorful, quirky, and wild, never afraid to jump off the page at the reader. The dialogue is snappy and snarky, the kind that makes you chuckle out loud or grin at the pages. If you want gritty or ‘realistic’ you should go with another series—these books are all about enjoying the sheer style that can be wrung out of a good futuristic detective caper.
That isn’t to suggest that Roberts is careless in how she sets up her books. Eve spends the first half of the book figuring out who her killer is, and the second half figuring out howdunit (and how to prove it). The mystery is a fascinating one and unraveling it definitely kept me enthralled. Part of the delight is watching Eve dig out the details and outsmart the killer, with the help of her friends, her co-workers, and of course her devilish husband Roarke.
Oh, yes, Roarke. Marriage has hardly slowed these two down. Their chemistry is every bit as brilliant as when they first met, and their sex scenes are every bit as pulse-poundingly hot. In short, Strangers in Death is a delicious story that positively screams to be read in bed.
As usual, the book stands alone surprisingly well, allowing you to come into the series at any book. The only oddness this might result in is that some side characters’ appearances might seem slightly unnecessary if you aren’t familiar with their importance in Eve’s life.